The year is 2021, but unfortunately, women are still not where they should be. Though this is true in numerous aspects such as safety, access to education, etc., and one of the main avenues where women are still missing out is the workplace. Despite women making up nearly half of the workforce in several parts of the world, they are still facing a significant amount of discrimination and gender inequality, which hinder their progress. Owing to this, we still find that corporate leadership positions, and similar positions in most other sectors, are still held by men. This is happening despite women putting up the same, if not more, effort compared to their male counterparts.
Such a situation is extremely unfair and discouraging for women worldwide, and a serious effort must be made to remedy this. Fortunately, a solution that can be easily implemented does exist, creating mentorship programs for female employees. A mentorship program is designed to connect women within the workforce to their superiors, allowing them to develop a relationship that helps them learn, grow, and eventually realize and achieve their ambitions. A mentorship program does so in several ways.
1. Enables women to communicate and voice their goals
There is no denying that effective communication within the workplace is a struggle that all women face. When women speak up in meetings or similar gatherings, they are often interrupted by their male counterparts. Furthermore, forcing their colleagues to acknowledge their efforts and listen to what they are saying are problems that women can find difficult to overcome. Owing to this, they become disheartened and cannot communicate their expectations to their seniors and even to their colleagues.
When junior female employees are enrolled in mentorship programs that encourage them to interact with senior staff, they are made to voice their opinions, building their confidence. When they have the chance to increase and better their communication skills, they can also learn how they can communicate effectively to obtain leadership positions within their company. Women often work in the same position for years on end, simply because they don’t voice their demands about being promoted and getting better pay. They shouldn’t have to, but learning those skills is important for a woman in the workplace, and having a mentor can give her the opportunity to acquire them.
2. Presents them with opportunities that they might not get otherwise.
To get into a leadership position, women should be given the right opportunities that can lead them to growth. Unfortunately, these opportunities seem to be a rarity for many women, the obvious choice for a leader always being a man. Even today, thinking of a woman in a leadership position is something that many people struggle with. When we hear of the former being a reality, we experience a degree of surprise. This attitude is quite unfortunate, and female leaders should be acceptable.
Fortunately, a mentorship program is something that can put all possible female leaders on the right path. Every individual mentor should be instructed to give all the advice possible to their mentee and, whenever they get the chance to help them grow, they should do so. This way, women will at least be informed of upcoming opportunities and have the chance to strive for them, something which can eventually result in them acquiring enough experience and contacts to be awarded a leadership position in their workplace.
3. Changing attitudes
We already know that many men are biased towards women in the workplace, believing that they cannot be successful in a leadership position. They attribute this to women’s other, arguably more important roles as homemakers and mothers, which they feel can hinder their dedication to their jobs. However, the sad fact is that many women hold similar views, especially subconsciously. This may be due to societal norms and our conditioning. It hinders an individual woman’s progress when she thinks like this, even when she is doing so subconsciously.
A mentorship program can be the answer to this problem. When young females enter the workplace, they often try to please all those around them in a bid to win favor. This ends up going against them as it allows others to just take advantage of them. When females are enrolled in a mentorship program, they see how leaders work and how fearless and calculating one must be to be a leader. Such an experience allows them to change their attitudes at the beginning of their career, setting them up for success in the future, even in a leadership position if that is what they want from their life.
4. Designing the perfect mentorship program
While a mentorship program is definitely the way to go when it comes to building female leaders in the workplace, your program must be designed in a certain way to ensure that it is beneficial.
You should start by giving the mentors some training in how to be a mentor. The program will just be a waste of time if the mentees aren’t benefitting from their interaction with the seniors. There should also be a proper structure to the program, which translates into a schedule and regular check-ups regarding the progress of each pair. A certain degree of planning should be undertaken when deciding which mentor and mentee should be paired up. This is normally achieved through personality matches, though other aspects such as skills can also be used.
Keeping the above-mentioned aspects in mind, you can create a mentorship program that is bound to benefit your junior female staff members, ensuring that the future sees gender equality and a more fair number of female leaders in the workplace.